Legarda: 2017 Budget Programs Must Consider Filipinos’ Happiness and Well-Being

November 16, 2016

Senator Loren Legarda today said that the proposed 2017 General Appropriations Act (GAA) aims to ensure that the quality of life and well-being of Filipinos are taken into consideration in the plans, programs and activities of government.

Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Finance, said that aside from measuring growth via traditional economic yardsticks of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and Gross National Product (GNP), it is equally important to measure the level of happiness, satisfaction and quality of life of Filipinos.

“Economic growth, per se, does not ensure the well-being of citizens so that a more accurate measure of development needs to be explored. We have encouraged the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) to incorporate the pillars of Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness (GNH) indicator,” she said.

During the plenary deliberations on the proposed budget of NEDA, Senator Gringo Honasan supported the call of Legarda to adopt the GNH, noting that other countries have started adopting the concept and that Ecuador, Bhutan, Venezuela, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) even have ministers of happiness.

Legarda said she has included a special provision under the proposed 2017 GAA that requires NEDA to ensure that the implementation of programs, projects and activities in the GAA shall contribute towards the improvement of the level of happiness in the country, as measured through GNH.

“Improving quality of life goes beyond economic growth and should include equally important factors such as good governance, equitable and sustainable socio-economic development, environmental sustainability, cultural preservation, and disaster resilience,” said Legarda.

“Apart from the integration of GNH in the budget, I am also helping our government ensure that the national budget is attuned to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) or global aims to end poverty and hunger, improve health and education, make cities more sustainable, combat climate change, promote peace and justice for all, and protect the environment and biodiversity. In the same way, we also seek to contribute to the achievement of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction,” she said.